CNN's GUT CHECK | for November 16, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER IN CHARGE OF HISPANIC OUTREACH “SHOCKED” BY ROMNEY’S COMMENTS… CARLOS GUTIERREZ TO CNN’s CANDY CROWLEY: “I was shocked. I was shocked and, frankly, I don't think that's why the Republicans lost the election, why we lost the election. I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn't belong. We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance. I mean, these immigrants who come across and what they do wrong is they risk their lives, they come here and they work because they want to be part of the American dream. That is what the GOP is.” VIDEO
GUTIERREZ ALSO ANNOUNCES GOP PRO-IMMIGRATION SUPER PAC WITH CHARLIE SPIES: “We are creating a Super PAC - I say "we", all Republicans who believe in immigration reform and immigration - with Charlie Spies, who created the largest Super PAC for Mitt Romney. So we're talking about something real and something that can have real influence on outcomes of elections.”
Gut Check DVR: Carlos Gutierrez will be on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.
DEVELOPING: ROCKETS STRIKE NEAR ISRAELI CITIES… Rockets landed near Israel's two most populous cities Friday as fighting between Israel and Hamas militants persisted with no immediate end in sight. Two rockets hit in an open area south of the city of Jerusalem, and no damage was reported. Hamas militants confirmed that they had fired rockets toward the city, which Israel considers its capital but is not recognized as such by the international community.
What president owned an amphibious car and liked to surprise unsuspecting guests by driving into lakes?
The Republican Party will spend months debating and discussing how Mitt Romney lost to President Barack Obama by such a large margin even though the GOP nominee’s top aides were predicting victory heading into Election Day. Republican leaders need to look no further than the exit polls to see that Obama did a better job of turning out his base, including the growing Hispanic community. A new Pew Research Center study shows that the Hispanic electorate is expected to double by 2030, making outreach efforts a pressing issue for the GOP. We asked Jennifer S. Korn, executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, an advocacy organization that seeks to engage Hispanics on center-right issues, how she thinks the Republican Party should try to engage this growing community.
Gut Check: There has been much discussion about why the Republican Party lost ground with Hispanic voters. Do you think that it is due more to language or policy?
KORN: The growing Hispanic vote played an unmistakable role [on Election Day], presenting obvious challenges for conservatives moving forward. Hispanics’ national share of vote, exponentially rising eligible voters, and key-state vote differentials all lead to a clear point: Hispanics are an ever-important part of the electorate that can't be ignored. The scope of the challenge is broad, but there is opportunity ahead for conservatives to engage Hispanics. Candidates must increase their understanding of their constituencies as well as demographic shifts. Increased understanding should be partnered with strong coalition-building efforts at the local level and among leading Hispanic groups nationally. The movement's objectives must include long-term, sustainable efforts to engage the Hispanic community on issues affecting them and that concern them the most. Hispanics are not monolithic and care about many issues, including the economy, education and health care – not just immigration. But on the immigration front, it would be helpful to talk about the issue in terms of solutions and not harsh rhetoric that turns off Hispanics.
Gut Check: President Obama said he plans to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority in his second term. What do you think Republicans should insist be part of the legislation?
KORN: If the president finally makes good on his broken promise from the first term to address immigration reform, then he has to lead on this issue. No telling Congress to send him a bill – he needs to be active in the process and lay out a blueprint. Republicans should talk about the things they are FOR when it come to immigration reform, like a viable guest worker program that fits the needs of our economy, overhauling our visa system and what truly will secure the border once and for all – including what the cost will be to taxpayers. This will require funding, and taxpayers need to be told that what they pay for will actually work. Of course both parties will need to address the issue of undocumented immigrants that are already in the U.S., but the first three issues are more likely to get bipartisan support.
Gut Check: Do you think Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, Gov. Susana Martinez, Gov. Brian Sandoval and George P. Bush are critical to helping the GOP make inroads in the Hispanic community?
KORN: Conservatives have great leaders in Senator Rubio, Governor Susana Martinez and Governor Brian Sandoval, not because they are Hispanic, but also because they are willing to lead on important issues. Since they understand the community, they actively engage Hispanics already and will continue to do so - making it a plus for conservatives in general. Conservatives continue to elect more Hispanics to office like Senator-elect Ted Cruz and perhaps George P. Bush in the near future. These are all helpful in attracting more Hispanics to the movement.
GUT CHECK: What do you think of Mitt Romney’s post-election comments on the reasons why he lost?
KORN: The remarks are unfortunate. It would do us all good not to divide the country by characterizing everyone that voted for Obama as those that just want "gifts." You can point to a number of items, but Obama had a better ground game, had a message that resonated with many voters, even with a high unemployment rate and defined Romney early on – even if unfairly. Unfortunately for the country, the president’s policies haven’t worked, and we are left hoping that somehow he partners with Congress to put into place a real plan that will fix our economy and put 23 million unemployed Americans back to work.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Ex-CIA chief Petraeus testifies Benghazi attack was al Qaeda-linked terrorism
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants. That's according to U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes. The account Petraeus gave was different from the description the Obama administration gave on September 14, King said.
Leading Drudge: Who Got To Susan?
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified in a closed-door hearing Friday morning that his agency determined immediately after the September 11 Libya attack that "al Qaeda involvement" was suspected, but the line was taken out in the final version circulated to administration officials, according to a top lawmaker who was briefed. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, who spoke to reporters after Petraeus testified before the House Intelligence Committee, indicated he and other lawmakers still have plenty of questions about the aftermath of the attack. – Catherine Herridge
Leading HuffPo: Make Them Talk
The next time a minority of senators find something the majority supports to be objectionable, they may be required to take the Senate floor and explain just why they object. And when they're done with that, they'll have to keep talking, and talking, and talking. The most persistent advice that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said he gets from liberals he meets across the country is as simple as it is frustrating: "Make them actually filibuster!" – Ryan Grim
Leading Politico: David Petraeus: CIA believed Benghazi was a terrorist attack
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified Friday morning that the CIA knew that the Benghazi attacks were an act of terrorism and not a spontaneous demonstration, and he denied that his sensational extramarital affair had any impact on his testimony. Appearing before Congress for the first time since the sex scandal ended his career, Petraeus tried to explain the discrepancy between the CIA’s knowledge and the Obama administration officials’ initial public statements declaring that the Benghazi attacks were part of a demonstration and not a terrorist attack. – Seung Min Kim
Leading The New York Times: Rockets Target Jerusalem; Israel Girds for Gaza Invasion
Palestinian militants fired rockets for the first time at Jerusalem on Friday in a daring new escalation of hostilities with Israel on the third day of their latest lethal conflict over Gaza, triggering air raid sirens and panicking residents who had thought themselves secure from such attacks because of the holy city’s multireligious heritage and large Palestinian population. – Isabel Kershner
The political bites of the day
– Positivity reigns after bipartisan White House fiscal cliff summit –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT THE START OF THE MEETING: “Our challenge is to make sure that we are able to cooperate together, work together, find some common ground, make some tough compromises, build some consensus to do the people's business, and what the folks are looking for, and I think we can all agree on this, is action they want to see that we are focused on them not focused on our politics here in Washington.”
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio) AFTER THE MEETING: “We had a very constructive meeting with the president to talk about America's fiscal problem. I outlined a framework that deals with reforming our tax code and reforming our spending and I believe that the framework that I've outlined in our meeting today is consistent with the president's call for a fair and balanced approach. To show our seriousness, we've put revenue on the table.”
– Recession is a small price to pay for growth, says Greenspan –
ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S ALI VELSHI: “IMF studies show definitively that if you cut spending in a situation like this it does lower the GDP, but nowhere near the amount an increase in taxes lowers the rate of increase in GDP. I think if we have to have a moderate recession to solve this huge fiscal problem that’s in front of us, I think that is a very small price to pay, because we’re not going to get out of this thing without paying. There is a presumption here that we have a whole schedule of economic policy, which can basically just solve the problem as though it’s just a normal situation. It is not.”
– Feinstein defends Rice, reads unclassified talking points –
DEMOCRATIC SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, AT A STAKEOUT ON CAPITOL HILL: “We have seen wrong intelligence before, and it all surrounded our going into Iraq and a lot of people were killed based on bad intelligence and I don’t think that is fair game. I think mistakes get made. You don’t pillory the person. And to select Ambassador Rice because she used an unclassified talking point, to say that she is unqualified to be Secretary of State I think is a mistake. And the way it keeps going it is almost as if the intent is to assassinate her character. … Let me read the original talking point. ‘The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the United States embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against United States diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.’ Then it went on – ‘This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.’ My addition – that is clearly what happened. Last point: ‘The investigation is ongoing and the United States government is working with Libyan authorities to bring justice to those responsible for the deaths of United States citizens.’”
– It all comes down to talking points –
REPUBLICAN REP. PETER KING, HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN, AT A CAPITOL HILL STAKEOUT: “Basically, it is still not clear how the final talking points emerged. He said it went through a long process involving many agencies including the Department of Justice, including the State Department, and no one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points other than to say the original talking points prepared by the CIA were different from the ones that were finally put out.”
– Christie says Romney still 'upset' after loss –
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE ON MSNBC: “I understand he's very upset about having lost the election and very disappointed. I've never run for president – I've lost elections but never for the presidency – and I'm sure it stings terribly. … He's a good man. He will find his level. And I think it's still a little raw. Do I wish he hadn't said those things? Of course not. But on the other hand, I'm not going to bury the guy for it.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) concedes to Scott Peters (D) in #CA52, giving Dems net gain of 5 House seats with 3 remaining—
Robert Yoon (@yoonCNN) November 16, 2012
Reid surprisingly bullish at WH today: "This isn't something we're going to wait until the last day of December to get it done."—
Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 16, 2012
Intrepid colleague @mikeviqueira reports that POTUS gave Boehner a bottle of Italian wine as a birthday gift. A Brunello - vintage unknown—
Ali Weinberg (@AliNBCNews) November 16, 2012
Paul Bedard (@SecretsBedard) November 16, 2012
Those who claim neocons put Israel first need to grapple with their support for the Arab Spring, which helped Hamas bit.ly/TIeXjk—
Philip Klein (@philipaklein) November 16, 2012
Siham Nuseibeh (@siham_n) November 16, 2012
Neil King (@NKingofDC) November 16, 2012
Stacy Kennedy (@nyckennedy) November 16, 2012
Imagine this: You’re driving in a car with the president of the United States, the car begins to roll down a hill and the president begins to exclaim that the brakes don’t work and you are going to hit the lake.
That is exactly what happened when President Lyndon B. Johnson took Joseph A. Califano, Jr., his special assistant, on a ride around his Texas ranch.
Johnson owned one of 3,878 Amphicars ever made, and when he was away from the White House, he would regularly use it to scare guests.
Califano, who went on to become Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, recalled the time Johnson tried to scare him, according to the National Park Service. “The president, with Vicky McCammon in the seat alongside him and me in the back, was now driving around in a small blue car with the top down. We reached a steep incline at the edge of the lake and the car started rolling rapidly toward the water. The president shouted, ‘The brakes don’t work! The brakes won’t hold! We’re going in! We’re going under!’ The car splashed into the water. I started to get out. Just then the car leveled, and I realized we were in an Amphicar. The president laughed. As we putted along the lake then (and throughout the evening), he teased me. ‘Vicky, did you see what Joe did? He didn’t give a damn about his president. He just wanted to save his own skin and get out of the car.’ Then he’d roar.”
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congratulations to Kevin DeWine (@KevinDeWine) for correctly answers today’s Gut Check trivia question correctly. Kudos to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) and Greg Dean (@gregdean11) for coming in a close second. Happy Friday all.
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